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George Levinger’s Definition of Close Relationships and How It’s Changed Today

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    “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. ” -George Levinger, 1976 In 1977, George Levinger, a successful psychologist who specialized in close relationships, conflict, and group behavior, examined interpersonal relationships and what is needed to make one successful. He defined a successful close relationship containing five components; 1) frequent interaction, 2) between spatially near partners, 3) who share significant common goals, 4) exchange personal disclosures, and 5) care deeply about one another.

    His definition of interpersonal relationships is one part social, one part physical, and three parts psychological. Although I agree with the components of his definition, I believe that in the world we live in today there are more factors that play a part in determining if the relationship is successful or not. In the frantic lives that we live in family, friends, and lovers are more important than ever and play a crucial role in everything from our development of self identity to self esteem, and the way that we cope with increasing stress in our lives.

    In addition to Levingers components of a close relationship there are so many other parts of our lives that influence our relationships, and with the technology that has been introduced to us an interpersonal relationship can now exist without having to be physically close to one another. Since 1977, peoples everyday lives have accumulated more stress and crisis than ever. Money problems, failure, children, increasing demands of work, consumerism, second jobs and physical fitness play a significant role on our relationships.

    In order to have a flourishing interpersonal relationship today, friends, families, and lovers have to be able to cope with other parts of our demanding lifestyle. In older times, friendships and other close relationships were a shelter or get away from stress and today they seem to be a common source of stress. Many people claim that they don’t have time for friends; that their life is so high-pressure they need more time to devote to relaxing and less time to devote to friends.

    For example, perhaps in 1977 Levinger’s five components of a close relationship would have resulted in a successful marriage between two partners. Today, however, with increasing stressors such as children, money, and other everyday problems, a marriage could easily fail. Another variable that differs from Levinger’s definition of close relationships that has changed in the recent years, is the ability to form and continue a strong, close relationship without having to be physically close to the other person.

    With the astounding technology that we have today, people now have the ability to make friends and meet partners over the internet. With websites for social networking, online dating services, chatting face-to-face over a computer screen, and instant messaging, a close relationship can now be formed and continued over the internet without physical interaction. As long as there is frequent interaction involved two friends, or partners still have the ability to maintain a relationship.

    For example, a high school graduate moving off to college can now communicate on a daily basis with their best friend from their home town. They even have the ability to see and hear their friend’s voice. When asking the thoughts that my father had, who is now 52 and widowed after 27 years of marriage, about Levinger’s definition of a close relationship he completely agreed with his five components until I mentioned the aspect of technology. My father lives in Cincinnati, about 1,000 miles away from me, and we talk on a daily basis.

    I reminded him of the resources we use and how we still see each other hear each other’s voices regularly. He then realized that we have a close relationship despite the miles between us, and his perspective began to change. George Levinger’s definition of close relationships has five very valid components of what is needed between individuals to create a successful interpersonal relationship. With the constant stressors in our lives and new technology that we have today, I believe that this definition is slightly outdated.

    Relationships still demand frequent interaction, common goals, the ability to exchange personal disclosures and the necessity to care deeply about one another; but with new problems, anxieties and worries, relationships demand a lot more attention than they did in 1977. The technology that we have today also gives us the abilities to create and continue close relationships with people that are miles away from us. With a few minor modifications, I believe that a current and more accurate version of Levinger’s definition of close relationships can be formed.

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    George Levinger’s Definition of Close Relationships and How It’s Changed Today. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from

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